Watery eyes, runny nose — you’re not even sick! Seasonal allergies, brought on by environmental factors such as pollen, dust, mold, trees, grass or family pets, puts a damper on the fun you should be having in the sun.
If you’re looking to relieve allergy symptoms naturally or simply complement the medicine or shots you’re already taking, consider acupuncture and aromatherapy.
“Virtually anyone can benefit from acupuncture and aromatherapy as we’ve seen patients ranging from children to those in their nineties,” said Sally Williams, DO, Integrative Medicine Physician at Avera Medical Group Integrative Medicine Sioux Falls. “It’s a complementary form of medicine, meaning it doesn’t interfere with existing conditions or medications you’re already taking.”
The magic happens when several hair-thin, flexible needles are inserted along the body’s meridians, or pathways in which energy flows. When the body is exposed to allergens, environmental toxins, an injury or just bad health habits in general, the meridians can become blocked. This causes pain, illness or, in this case, allergy symptoms.
Hundreds of acupuncture points exist around the body and interact with various bodily systems and functions. So depending on your needs, certain points will be utilized for your treatment in an effort to relieve symptoms. Needles may be inserted into your back, arms, legs, head, etc.
After the needles are in place, you lie on a massage table for 20 to 30 minutes. The dimmed room and optional music create a soothing environment to relax.
The needles activate the body’s natural antihistamine, halting the negative reaction you experience when exposed to an irritant.
How many treatments you will need may vary from just a few to several sessions. “The number of sessions depends on your symptoms, their severity and how long you’ve suffered from allergies,” said Williams. “If you start feeling better around number five of six planned sessions, we might schedule a few more to make sure you receive the full benefits acupuncture can provide.”
Aromatherapy can be used in tandem with acupuncture or by itself to help control symptoms. “Essential oils have the power to open airways, clear watery eyes and decrease mucus, allergy-related headaches and inflammation.”
Certain scents are useful for relieving certain symptoms. For example, peppermint and eucalyptus open the sinuses. Williams also recommends using combinations of lavender, lemon, tea tree and basil.
Oils are often released through a diffuser, a small machine that releases puffs intermittently. These are good for the home or office. For more mobility, Williams suggests adding a few drops of oil to an unscented lotion or even a cotton ball. When you start sniffling and tearing up, just hold the cotton ball under your nose and breathe in.
The vast majority of patients respond well to acupuncture and aromatherapy. About 80 percent will see improvement after their treatments. Only about 20 percent are non-responders.
“The only way to know if you’ll be a successful candidate is to try it!” said Williams.
How long you experience positive results also varies. For some with milder, more manageable allergies, the results could last up to a year or more. Others with severe, more persistent symptoms may feel relief for a few months or throughout the season.
“It’s important to be proactive,” said Williams. “Come in when you start to notice symptoms again; that way we can keep the worst of it at bay.”
About a third of all people’s health insurance covers acupuncture therapy. To be absolutely sure yours qualifies, contact your health insurance agency before receiving treatment to learn if your plan covers acupuncture.
Learn more about these unique approaches to feeling better online.